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Back from Vacation

May 9th, 2021 at 07:03 pm

I returned last night from my week long camping and hiking trip. It was fantastic! I am exhausted physically, but emotionally it has been so relaxing and rejuvenating. I need a vacation every month!

I booked this trip last December when I was feeling cooped up. It started out as a mental experiment - if I can't travel anywhere, I can plan and let my mind travel. I decided to plan a week long outdoor adventure. I picked Utah, and started planning. By the time I got to the third day, I couldn't contain myself any longer and booked the trip. I picked May since the weather there would still likely only be mild, and a school week thinking that it may be less crowded with fewer families. (I was wrong on both counts - the weather was hot and the national parks were busier than I had anticipated). I thought that if I were vaccinated by May, I would go. Planning the trip and the hikes provided me with months of enjoyment.

I rented a campervan - I have never used one before, and I was delighted by it. It was compact (fitting into a regular parking spot), and was set up with a bed, a kitchen, and an outdoor shower). I booked it because I didn't want to stay at hotels with other people or eat at restaurants, and I didn't want to fly my tent, camping cot, and all my camping supplies all the way to Utah. I stayed at campgrounds for the first two nights, and then did dispersed camping for the rest of the trip. It was beautiful. I camped by mountains, in the forest, and in dark valleys. Three of the places I camped were certified International Dark Sky spots, and I saw the milky way all three of those nights. I grocery shopped the first day and cooked all three of my meals each day.

The most expensive part of the trip was the van rental. I ended up paying for extra miles thinking I would need them, but I didn't. So, it could have been about $250 cheaper. Oh well...

Here is the cost breakdown:

396.61 - Flight, airport parking, and Uber to and from van rental office
822.13 - Van and equipment rental
157.04 - Gas
76.92 - Groceries and snacks
45.00 - Campground fees x2 nights
125.00 - National Park Annual Pass and 3 state park entry fees
76.91 - Gifts, souvenirs, and donations
1699.61 - TOTAL

I'm off to read the blogs that I missed while I was gone.

More Unexpected Expenses

April 20th, 2021 at 02:46 pm

I mentioned in my last post that I had a bunch of expenses piling up this month. In accordance with Murphy's Law, I have another unexpected expense on hand: the check engine light on my car went on on Saturday. I called the two mechanics I typically go to and the one that had an opening earliest was today. I'm taking it in today to have checked out and fixed. I am hoping it's not a large or expensive fix.

I'm counting the days to go on my camping vacation to the UT National Parks early next month. I have a week of vacation each month from now through August and it's making me so very happy to anticipate these holidays. This week, I received a call from a friend I have not met in two years and she asked me to go and spend some time with her at her beach cabin on Puget Sound. She's spends her summer months there, and I am looking forward to joining her there later this summer.

My brother in-law gets his second shot on Thursday. After this, everyone in my close family except my toddler niece will be fully vaccinated, and that is such a relief for now.

The flowers in my garden are making me happy. At the moment, I have tulips, bluebells, columbine, Persian buttercups, chives, wild violets, comfrey, and one solitary red marigold. The calendula and peonies look ready to open flower in another week or two. My fava beans have set fruit, and the blueberries are just starting to. The raspberries have flower buds on. The walking onions are forming bulbils. Spring time is my favorite season - there is a new delight to wake up to every day or two.

NW: $285,460.93

Weekly Frugal List - 1/2/21

January 2nd, 2021 at 04:52 pm


Here is a roundup of this week's frugal things:

(1) Started out the New Year by starting a free book through Hoopla.

(2) Started seeds for shallots on New Year's Day. They will go out into the garden on the 1st of March and all being well will be harvested at the end of July. These are my first seeds for the year. Last year, I started them in mid-Feb and had small-ish shallots. So, decided to start them sooner this year. It was a lovely way to start the new year.

(3) This one cost money, but will save me money. I purchased a National Park Pass. I plan to go on a camping road trip later in the year to visit all of Utah's national parks. I have been to the Zion and Bryce Canyon NPs about 10 years ago, so it will be fun to go again. I paid less for the pass that I would have paid in individual entrance fees on my one week trip. And I can use it to go to other national parks and monuments if I travel any more this year.

Starting New Year's Day with reading, gardening, and travel related things are hopefully something of an auspicious omen for how this year will go. I hope you all have a wonderful 2021.

Bittersweet Refund

October 24th, 2020 at 03:20 pm

Pre-pandemic, I had booked a trip to Europe with travel to Iceland and England. It was supposed to be a celebratory trip to mark my starting to be fully self-employed. To celebrate that I can set my own hours and take vacation whenever I wanted for however long I wanted. No more applications for leave to be approved! I had really been looking forward to it. It was supposed to happen in August. My sister and her family were to have joined me for a portion of it. 

Needless to say, the trip did not happen because of COVID. Iceland Air, who I had booked the trip with, canceled one leg of the flight several months ago, and I immediately cancelled the trip and applied for a refund. They kept delaying  the refund. Anyway, about a week ago, I got notification that my refund had been processed. It showed up in my account today, five months after I submitted the refund request.

The refund amount is $1665. It is bittersweet. I really wish I could have gone on this trip. But, on the other hand this will pay for about 3 months of expenses. Oh well - Iceland will always be there. I can go when it is safe to go.

A question - is anyone else having trouble copy-pasting your entries? I lost my entries so much over the past week, that I wrote it out in a different document and tried to paste into the editor. But, it does not save my entries when I do that. I have to type out the whole entry each time with no guarantees that it will actually save. Very frustrating!